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China: Lift high the cross—right off dozens of churches

More than 60 churches in China's most Christian province have been threatened or destroyed this year in a government campaign to remove prominent crosses and other religious symbols. Among them was Sanjiang Church, a $3.2 million, 8-story megachurch that wasn't spared from demolition even after hundreds of members formed a human shield to protect it. While Communist Party officials insist the "Three Rectifications and One Demolition" campaign was necessary because the churches were illegally built, nearly 60 prominent Chinese scholars, ministers, and lawyers publicly condemned the "misunderstanding, violation, discrimination, and persecution," and urged the Chinese people to demand more religious freedom.

In Egypt, Copts to U.S. Christian leaders: Thanks but shush

Leith Anderson, James Dobson, Franklin Graham, and Bill Hybels were among 188 Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox leaders urging the United States to do more to help the dwindling Christians of Syria, Iraq, and Egypt. But not all Egyptian Christian leaders welcomed the show of solidarity. "We value so much the prayers and concerns of our Christian brethren around the world," said Fawzi Khalil, pastor at Kasr el-Dobara Church in Cairo, the largest evangelical congregation in the Middle East. "But we don't believe outside pressure would be best for our daily life with our Muslim friends." The U.S. leaders asked Congress to appoint a special envoy on Middle East religious minorities, review foreign aid, and assist refugees and reconstruction. The U.S. House approved the envoy last fall; the Senate has yet to vote.

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Gleanings: July/August 2014
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